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Statement: On July 24, 2014 Internet portalsAmbebi. gerepublished article by the magazine Sarke, in which criminal case of Mariam Kochaladze murder was covered in xenophobic context. Article was base on only one source - the victim's godfather, developed the opinion that the murder had been committed on religious grounds (ritual of sacrifice) and it was linked with the girl's decision to abandon the Turkish school and alleged threats from the university's administration.
Non-governmental and religious organizations (Media Development Foundation, Georgian Muslims' Union, Malkhaz Songulashvili, Bishop of Georgia's Evangelical Baptist Church, Institute of Tolerance and Diversity, The Human Rights Education and Monitoring Center, Sapari Union, Identoba, Article 42, Open Society GeorgiaFoundation and Georgian Democracy Initiative, GDI) believed that the article misled the audience and incited hatred and intolerance on the grounds of religious or ethnic origin.
The authors of the statement believed that to avoid misleading of the audience the media should verify the information at least with two independent sources, especially when it comes to controversial factual circumstances and sensitive issues. The above mentioned article was based on emotional statements of victims' relative and there was no indication that journalist took reasonable actions to verify the accuracy of the reported facts. The media outlets did not recheck the information with official investigation about the motives of the murder.
NGOs believed that spreading unspecified assumptions about the motive of the murder was aggravated by emphasizing the religious themes, as drawing unjustified parallels between particular negative event and religious origin, associating specific incident with the entire group could incite hatred and reinforce negative stereotypes related to Islam, often expressed in a form of anti-Turkish sentiments in Georgian media.
On 29 July, 2014 non-governmental and religious organizations released a statement and called on editorial of internet-portalAmbebi.geand magazineSarke to correct information through a proportional means.
Response: On July 29, the editorial board of the internet portalAmbebi.ge removed the publication about the murder of Mariam Kochaladze from its web-page.